What a kettle of soup!


Contributing Editor
Walt Pickut

Soups and stews have been mainstays of human existence as long as humans have had pots to throw things into and hang over a fire. If there’s a classic human race cuisine, it’s got to be some kind of soup or stew.

There are even hundreds of versions, thousands of years old, of a soup that started with rocks. Rock soup simply gathered up everything else edible and mixed it all together in the pot. And nobody ever went away hungry.

But since those days, we’ve added a few refinements, turned it into a high art, and even figured out how to charge $100 for a bowl of it in fancy restaurants.

Ludwig van Beethoven, acclaimed by many to be among the greatest musicians and composers of all time, held soup in high esteem. He once said,

“Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”

But I’m writing today to admit I really don’t know a thing about soup. Consider Sinigang soup. Never heard of it? Neither had I until I learned it was recently declared to be “The Best Soup in the World” by Taste Atlas as the international food database’s Annual Awards winner.

Sinigang soup is also known as Sour Soup, native to the Philippines. Ingredients are a hodge-podge porridge of pieces, including but certainly not limited to, pork belly, pork neck bones, beef, shrimp, fish, chicken, chopped baby back ribs, and a trove of common and exotic vegetables and spices. Some permutation of those make “the best soup in the world.”

And that, naturally, takes me to Christmas in Jamestown. It is really only the most prominent ingredient, and a popular one to be sure, in our own holiday soup mix.

But it’s the mix that makes it good for our whole community, a mix that nourishes and nurtures everyone from our neighborhoods to our nation.

This week your Jamestown Gazette invites our readers to sample a few of those ingredients, the return of Holidays at the Lodge, for example, to the Roger Tory Peterson Institute—the RTPI. Santa Claus will mingle with arts of many kinds there, along with music, crafts and much more, including something on the menu for celebrators of every age.

Our community will also once again celebrate Wreaths Across America, a movement whose primary activity is distributing Veteran’s wreaths all across the nation, as well as right here in Western New York, at a reverent and thankful ceremonial placement on graves of fallen heroes in a placed dedicated to the military at local cemeteries.

And just as the RTPI and the Wreaths events are very different from each other, they can come together in a soup that harmonizes all its flavors in our own version of “The Best Soup in the World.”

So, whether or not we can aspire to be the “pure in heart” people Beethoven admired, we can certainly strive to blend ourselves together in celebration of our hometown soup.

An English novelist and playwright of the 20th century, Marge Kennedy, once wrote,

“Soup is a lot like a family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavor.”

And you clearly do have good taste. After all, you’re reading the Jamestown Gazette.

Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut
Contributing Editor

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.